Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

The best falafel

Yesterday I had the best falafel I have had in many years. In fact it was so good, I just felt I needed to blog about it and let the world know.

Why was it so good. Well…

  1. The falafel balls were crispy and freshly fried
  2. There were loads of them
  3. I had mine in a pita. My son had a lafa and there were considerably more falafel in the lafa than in the pita (which is a rare thing – and the reason I normally go for the cheaper and theoretically smaller pita).
  4. While we were standing in line the guy serving behind the counter gave us each a falafel ball on the house to build up our anticipation.

So where is this great falafel stall? It is in Talpiot in Jerusalem and the map here shows where to find it.

Opposite Kanyon Hadar there is a long building set back from the street with parking in front. It is the one with a matress shop at the far left end, a craft supply store and a hardware store at the right end.

In front of the parking on the street there are two stalls – one Burgers Bar on the left and the other the best falafel in the Middle East (well maybe I’m getting a bit carried away there) on the right.

The red/yellow circle marks the spot.

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Food art

Today I saw an article on the BBC website showing amazing landscape  dioramas created by an Australian photographer called Carl Warner and all out of food.

It reminded me of a great book called “Food Play” by Joost Elffers and Saxton Freyman. The book presents pages of models of faces, people animals and whatnot all made out of fruit and vegetables. Apparently this book is one of a whole series. I saw it in the art museum shop in Williamstown MA and thought I must take this one home with me.

Worth a look.

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Don’t talk about it, do it

I was recently having a conversation with my wife about a program we heard on the radio while working together in the kitchen. It was one of those magazine programs with articles about all kinds of subjects and they were having a roll on talking about food.

First there was an article about some Tunisian snack – I can’t remember what – and they interviewed some north African ethnic cookery expert who explained how to make it. The next article was about wine. What wine goes with what food, how to choose a wine for a meal and all that stuff.

Wife says; “I can’t stand people talking about wine. It’s so pretentious (paltzani in Hebrew).

I say; “I don’t like people talking about food. Why is the wine any worse than the Tunisian sandwich?”

It may not be normal, but I find that culinary discussions to sometimes verge on the pornographic. For me the discussion of techniques and recipes to bring exquisite pleasure to a diner by tantalizing his taste buds, is a voyeuristic experience a bit like discussing techniques to bring exquisite pleasure to…. well you know what I mean.

It can also be pretentious. And it doesn’t matter if you are talking about “authentic” ethnic cookery or “prestigious” wines.

Another thing that makes me feel uneasy is reading art reviews and even more so, manifestos. Albeit, there are differences between a Tunisian sandwich, the Karma Sutra and a newspaper review of an art exhibit, but they all bring me to the same feeling of “stop talking about it and get on with it”.

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Etrog jam recipe

After I wrote a post on making etrog jam last week, I have noticed that a lot of people are coming to this site searching for a recipe for etrog jam. I didn’t give the recipe in my previous post, so here it is.

The things you need are:

  • 4 average sized etrogim
  • 1 smallish lemon
  • 1kg white sugar

First scrape the etrogim with a fine potato peeler in order to remove the colored part of the skin. If you have a bumpy etrog, you will not be able to do this entirely but do your best. Next, cut the etrogim into pieces and scoop out the innards. I cut each one into eight equal parts (half, quarter and then once again). Now take the bits of peel you have left, cut them into thin strips and put them in a saucepan. When you’re finished, squeeze the lemon, pour the juice in and add the sugar. Mix the mixture up, cover and leave to stand overnight.

After a few hours you should notice that the sugar has all liquified. The next day bring the mixture carefully to the boil making sure not to burn the sugar. Keep it boiling for about half and hour. When it is ready the syrup should be a golden brown.

Pour the hot syrup into clean, dry jars (I got three jars full from the recipe) and close them tight. You may want to add about 10cc of boling water to each jar to dilute the syrup a bit as it is rather thick when it cools down.

The final product is a thick etroggy syrup and tastes amazing.

Note that the recipe is based on one that appears in “HaMitbah Shel Sari Ansky” (“המטבח של שרי אנסקי”) by Sari Ansky published in Hebrew by Modan. You can buy it here. The book is full of recipes for jams pickles and other great things to do in the kitchen.

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Etrog jam

For the etrog jam recipe, click here.

Last night instead of painting I made some etrog jam.

For those of you who don’t know what an etrog is, it’s a citrus fruit that looks a bit like a bumpy lemon. If you’ve never seen one that won’t really help you because you’re extremely unlikely to ever cross paths with one unless you’re jewish. You certainly won’t find one in your local supermarket.

The big deal about the etrog is that it is one of the “four species” – four plants that are connected with the jewish festival of Sukkot: a palm-branch-bud called a lulav, three sticks of myrtle, two bits of willow and an etrog. We hold these during prayers on the festival and they represent plants from different climates in Israel (desert, mountains, rivers and the hot coastal plain) as well as a lot of other more esoteric things.

Anyway, come the end of the festival, what do you do with your etrog. I had three of them and I got another from my mother. Loads of etrogs (etrogim). They don’t taste of much and have very think skins, a bit like a pomello but on a fruit the size of a lemon. The actual fruit inside is real small, sour and full of seeds. One of the popular things you can do with them is to make etrog jam.

I did this a few years back and ended up with several jars that no-one wanted to eat except me, but the children have grown up up a bit since then so I reckoned I’ll have more customers this time. I got out my etrog jam recipe book and followed the instructions.

Unfortunately there were two recipes there – the first one for a mirkahat (don’t ask me to translate that into English) and the second one for a jam. Last time I read the whole page and made the jam, this time I didn’t bother reading down and made the mirkahat.

The picture at the top shows what I created. A mirkahat apparently is a sugar syrup full of fruit. It tastes fantastic, but it’s no marmalade or jam. If someone could invent a way to give tasting over the Internet then you could try it yourself. As things stand, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

The only problem is that the syrup is very stiff and the bit of peel came out hard instead of soft. I might try adding some hot water to one of the pots and see if I can dilute it and make it easier to get out of the pot and spread. All the same, three pots of etrog jam is not a bad product of a couple of hour’s work.

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